When volcanic eruptions took place in the Virunga area, discharged lava gushed towards the least resistant directions. As the outer parts of the streaming molten rock eventually cooled and hardened, inner currents continued to flow unobstructed — leaving behind huge horizontal openings beneath the elevated ground.
This process is responsible for the formation of Musanze Caves and a new product in the rapidly growing tourism sector. A lot of work has been done to pave the underground walkway and give this attraction a much-needed facelift. Something similar to a cobblestone footpath is built and stairs are shaped to ease climbing up and down the uneven floor.
Musanze area’s landscape was reshaped by centuries of volcanic turmoil. As a result, a variety of geographical features decorating the surface of the earth were formed, altitude levels were altered and subways were created. From subtle features to skyscraping summits and hidden underground structures, lava emitted from the Virunga vents created a variety of topographic designs.
Encrusted by a solid compound of igneous rocks and pyroclastic materials, Musanze Caves have stood the test of time. They have survived massive earthquakes wreaking havoc from time to time. They have withstood construction projects and constant human activities taking place right on the roof.
Equipped with helmets and flashlights, visitors are guided through an underground dark channel divided into three segments. They peep at the interiors of smaller, darker and scarier chambers along the way. They walk below the main Kigali-Rubavu highway and a higher learning institution known as INES. Yes, they stroll under the ground on which the road and the school are constructed.
Musanze caves span the distance of two kilometers underneath the neighborhood I was familiar with way before I heard about their existence. I used to see motorists traversing the road, students walking in and out of their campus and kids playing football. Little did I know that adventurous people were touring open spaces below that community’s land.